How to Fix Wine Cooler Condensation Problems

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Condensation can sometimes form inside your wine cooler, just the same way it can form on your windows or the windshield of your car. If you’re not careful, it can become an annoying and persistent problem. Fortunately, there is a simple solution to wine cooler condensation that will keep it from fogging up the glass and soaking your wine bottles.

Why Condensation Forms Inside Wine Coolers

Terms

Actual Vapor Density

Also known as absolute humidity. The amount of water vapor in the air, normally measured in grams per cubic meter

Saturation Vapor Density

The maximum amount of water the air can hold before condensation occurs

Relative Humidity

Actual vapor density divided by saturation vapor density, normally expressed as a percentage (e.g. 50%)

Dew Point

The temperature at which air must be cooled in order for condensation to occur

Condensation occurs when water vapor transforms from a gas back into a liquid. Air, no matter how dry it is,  always contains some degree of water vapor. When you heat it, the air molecules are forced farther apart from one another and the vapor molecules suspended in it get pulled farther apart. The more spread out the air molecules become, the more water the air can hold, so its saturation density increases. If actual vapor density remains steady, that is, if no additional water vapor is added to the air, then relative humidity will do down as the ratio between the amount water in the air and the amount of water the air can hold decreases.

How to Fix Wine Cooler Condensation ProblemsWhen air cools down, the opposite occurs. Air molecules move closer together and the vapor molecules in the air are brought back together again. Saturation density decreases and relative humidity goes up again. Eventually, if temperatures fall far enough, the difference between the actual vapor density and the saturation vapor density drops to zero and relative humidity reaches 100 percent. The temperature at which this happen is called the dew point and it’s when vapor molecules condense back into water droplets.

Any exposure to sufficiently low temperatures is enough to trigger condensation. When you place a cold glass of water outside on a hot day, it triggers condensation in the air around it. As the air  comes into contact with the cold glass, its temperature drops until the water molecules condense and form a thing layer of condensation that clings to the outside of the glass.

This is essentially the same thing that happens when condensation forms inside a wine cooler. When you open the door, you let warm air into the wine cooler. Once it’s trapped inside, the temperature of the air slowly drops as the cooling system kicks in. If the air was humid enough, it will contain enough water molecules that by the time it reaches your storage temperature (normally 45-55°F) it will hit its saturation point. Relative humidity will reach 100 and condensation will form.

Condensation is most common in areas where the air is naturally humid, such as Florida or Louisiana. It happens more often in the summer, when absolute humidity is generally high, and less often in winter, when absolute humidity is generally low.

Problems Causes by Condensation

How to Fix Wine Cooler Condensation ProblemsThough condensation problems can be annoying, the good news is they won’t harm your wine or your wine cooler. As long as your wine is corked, it should be impenetrable to moisture. Humidity is actually good for corks. When they dry out, they shrink and crack, which allows oxygen to penetrate the bottle and upset the chemical balance of the wine. The interior of your wine cooler is made from airtight plastic, so it also won’t be affected if water droplets build up inside. There’s also no way for the moisture to reach any of the electronic components either. They’re sealed in a different compartment, away from your wine, so they’re stay completely safe.

Condensation will affect your wine labels, however, which can be a serious issue for a wine collector. Excess moisture will cause the labels to bubble, warp, or even rot to the point where they’ll be so delicate they’ll literally fall to pieces. Excessive moisture can also lead to mold, which is a much more serious problem. Mold won’t damage your wine cooler, but it can damage your wine. Mold consumes organic material such as cork and cellulose, so if it’s left unchecked it can eat away at your wine labels and the corks in your wine bottles. It’s difficult to protect against mold. It’s transmitted by microscopic spores suspended in the air. They’re invisible to the naked eye and waft into your cooler when you open the door. Once one gets inside, it will start to grow and multiply if the conditions are right. There are several ways to eliminate mold, but the easiest is to prevent it from growing by controlling the amount of moisture and condensation inside your wine cooler.

How to Fix Wine Cooler Condensation Problems

How to Fix Wine Cooler Condensation Problems
How to Fix Wine Cooler Condensation Problems
How to Fix Wine Cooler Condensation Problems

There is no way to prevent moisture from entering your wine cooler. If you live in a humid area, it will come in whenever you open the door. Keeping the door closed as much as possible will help (NewAir Wine Coolers come with a lock that gives you total control over your wine cooler door), but won’t eliminate the danger completely. If you find condensation in your wine cooler, the first thing to is clean it out and add a moisture absorber inside that will soak up the excess humidity inside. Moisture absorbers are inexpensive and can be purchased online or at your local hardware store or supermarket. Here is a list of some of the most common:

Moisture Absorbers

Baking Soda

Placing a bowl of baking soda in your wine cooler will absorb excess moisture

Chalk

Hang a mesh cloth bag of ordinary chalk sticks on the inside of your wine cooler to soak up extra moisture. The mesh bag allows air to move back and forth over the chalk

Clay Absorbers

Clay moisture absorbers are sold in packets or in large tubs of loose granules
Silica Beads Made from sodium silicate, silica beads can adsorb up to 40 times their weight in liquid. Normally sold in packets
Calcium Chloride The strongest moisture absorber. Sold in large tubs and small packets

Not every method of moisture absorption is equally effective. Some materials have a higher moisture capacity than others and will do a better job. If you’re not having any luck with baking soda or chalk, switch to a stronger method, like silica beads or calcium chloride. They may cost more, but do a better job soaking up water.

If you’re still experiencing condensation problems, even after switching to a stronger absorbers, there may be a problem with the wine cooler itself. Check the cabinet for air leaks. If humid air is continuously getting into your wine cooler, it can overload your moisture absorber and lead to more condensation. Pay close attention to the door. If there is an air leak, a weak seal is the most likely cause. An easy way to check the seal is to place a dollar bill in the door and gently tug on it. If the bill slides right out, the seal is bad. The rubber gasket may have come lose or been torn. If it’s lose, see if you can move the seal back into place. If it’s damaged, contact NewAir to find out how you can purchase a replacement. If the leak is being caused by a crack or damage to the wine cabinet itself, you’ll have to contact the manufacturer and have it repaired.

Condensation Inside the Door

Most wine coolers are equipped with dual pane glass doors, and the glass panes are normally held in place by a simple screw assembly. They’re not air tight, so if the rubber seal on the door is lose or damaged, it is possible for air to leak in and form condensation inside the door, between the glass panes.

This form of condensation isn’t harmful, but looks bad and it can’t be removed except by disassembling the door and cleaning the panes by hand. It’s extremely difficult and time consuming problem to fix. The only way to prevent it is to make sure the rubber seal around the door frame stays strong. If you see any damage, replace the seal immediately. Replacements can be purchased by contacting NewAir or the manufacturer.

How to Fix Wine Cooler Condensation Problems

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